When pre-approved for home purchase, the battle is over but not the war

Q: I have a contract on my home. The buyer is interested in buying some furniture. My broker tells me I may not speak to the buyer at all. No furniture was included in the contract. Why can I not speak to the buyer? — Via e-mail

A: Of course you can speak to the buyer. Your agent must obey your orders, not the other way around. The broker may be acting in your best interest, though, by advising you not to contact the buyer directly. Both parties can be under stress during the critical time between contract and closing and it’s easy to say the wrong thing. A discussion about the sale of furniture could end up endangering the whole transaction. You should wait until everything else is settled.

Buying foreclosure

Q: We are first-time buyers and have experienced something we thought was strange. We submitted a purchase offer on a house that was going to foreclosure. At first we were told all offers were going to the bank in three days.

After not hearing from the bank, we checked and were told the offers (there were three) were being presented to the seller and her attorney in five more days. Is this what usually happens or is it because of the house being put into foreclosure? The owner is the one who put the house on the market. And, what would the purpose be of holding all offers for so long? — C. and C.

A: If you were dealing with a seller in a normal situation, your purchase offer would probably have been open for only a short time. But when a bank and possible foreclosure are involved, things get complicated. Your offer, along with the others, may be just sitting on a desk somewhere. It might have to go to a committee — perhaps more than one — and these things take time. It sounds as if a “short sale” is involved, which might require approval on several levels.

If waiting around makes you too nervous, you may want to withdraw your offer and start over with some other house. Otherwise, just hang in there!

Neighbor’s tree again

Q: Can a neighbor force an owner of a healthy tree to trim the tree so that none of its branches hang over the property line?

Further, if an otherwise healthy tree falls, (due to an act of nature), the owner of the otherwise healthy tree is not responsible for damage to neighbor’s property. Please let me know your thoughts. — K.D.

A: You’re right that the neighbor owns whatever is in his or her airspace and can trim the tree at will. The neighbor would be responsible, though, if that killed the tree. I don’t believe the neighbor could force anyone else to trim the tree, though.

One who felt threatened could, I suppose, call the local town hall or health bureau to see if any remedy was possible. My thought about a tree falling on a neighbor’s land and causing damage? Turn the whole matter over to your insurance company. They can settle it with the neighbor’s insurer.

Pre-approved — now what?

Q: I got approved for a mortgage and put in all my papers and check. What could make them not qualify me now? — Via e-mail

A: Any last-minute change in your credit record might. This is not the time to take out a car loan. The property also has to qualify. The lender’s appraisal will show if the house is worth enough to serve as security for your loan.

Firing the agent

Q: We signed a contract to hire a real estate agent, and the contract stated that he would have the for-sale sign up within 24 hours.

The for-sale sign was never put up, so now are we able to get out of this contract since he didn’t fulfill his obligation? How do we go about doing that if so? — Via e-mail

A: You have the right to cancel an agency whenever you want to without giving an excuse.

You might be held responsible for the agent’s expenses, but that should be all. Understand, though, that you made that contract with the company, and not with the individual agent. Your first step should be to talk with the managing broker.

Edith Lank will respond personally to any questions sent to her at 240 Hemingway Drive, Rochester, NY 14620 (please include a stamped return envelope), or readers may e-mail her at ehlank@aol.com.

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